About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 361-366
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-615-5563-5
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain


V.M. Rumjanek, J. Barral, R.S. Schiaffino, D. Almeida, F.E. Pinto-Silva

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (BRAZIL)
Teaching science goes beyond the idea of forming future research scientists, but derives from the need to form future citizens capable of understanding the implications of the major changes brought about by technological advances, and, in parallel, to appreciate the social value of scientific knowledge. However, the isolation experienced by the deaf community, produced by the language/communication barrier, has impeded this group from acquiring general information normally obtained not only via school education, but also in an informal fashion. This is particularly manifested in regard to scientific knowledge.
Since 2002, Brazil has established by decree that Brazilian Sign Language (LIBRAS) should be accepted as the official language of the Brazilian deaf community and used for educational purposes. Brazilian deaf face difficulties in developing the capacity of reading and writing in the native language of their country, attaining very a low level of literacy.
When trying to establish the level of information obtained by Brazilian deaf youths through the media, it became clear that despite the fact that deaf youngsters claim that most of their information derives from reading newspapers, their level of comprehension of what they read is very superficial. Similarly, science learned at school lacks real undestanding. LIBRAS is defficient in scientific terms, making it difficult to teach scientific concepts in sign language, and most students lack real-world experience of what is being taught. Another complicating issue in science teaching for the deaf is the lack of specialization found among interpreters of sign language, most of them do not know enough science to be able to overcome the lack of scientific terms in LIBRAS.
The present work describes our experience with more than 170 profoundly deaf school students, that have LIBRAS as their first language. We verified if their kowledge and interest in life sciences could be improved by the intervention of various activities of our group. Among them were short courses given in sign language, based on a specific scientific topic, without theoretical classes and involving inquiry, hands-on, minds-on and collaborative work. In a similar style, but covering all areas of biosciences in a sequential fashion, we offered a one year course to a limited number of deaf students. As a result of the need to communicate with each other, deaf students started to develop new signs to represent scientific-technological terms. These new signs were recorded, tested with other deaf students and put toghether in the form of a scientific sign language glossary. To overcome the lack of specialization of the LIBRAS interpreter, we created a course for specializing these professionals. To minimize the problem of defficient information transmission, we conducted a debate surrounding the issue on how much the media was aware of the lack of efficiency of information transmission for the deaf. The deaf community has been ignored by the mass media that never considered that this group has a problem in receiving information. Finally, in an attempt to contextualize some of the scientific information as well as adding general culture to this group of deaf students, we created a series of comic books joining history, science and entertainment.
This set of actions motivated deaf students towards science and increased their understanding of the importance of science.
author = {Rumjanek, V.M. and Barral, J. and Schiaffino, R.S. and Almeida, D. and Pinto-Silva, F.E.},
series = {6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2012 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-5563-5},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {5-7 March, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {361-366}}
AU - V.M. Rumjanek AU - J. Barral AU - R.S. Schiaffino AU - D. Almeida AU - F.E. Pinto-Silva
SN - 978-84-615-5563-5/2340-1079
PY - 2012
Y1 - 5-7 March, 2012
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2012 Proceedings
SP - 361
EP - 366
ER -
V.M. Rumjanek, J. Barral, R.S. Schiaffino, D. Almeida, F.E. Pinto-Silva (2012) TEACHING SCIENCE TO THE DEAF - A BRAZILIAN EXPERIENCE, INTED2012 Proceedings, pp. 361-366.